Try These Nutritious Snacks to Stay Full Between Meals

Whether you are trying to drop a few pounds or simply eat healthfully for longevity, you’ll love these nutritious and filling snack ideas.

Fatty Acids Get You Going

Not all fat is bad. Healthy fats, the monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as nuts, olives, fish, eggs, avocados and dark chocolate have several powerful health benefits. These healthy fats are especially beneficial for overall brain health and memory, according to

Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids can also lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. As a result, they reduce the risk of vascular disease, heart disease and stroke.

Healthy-fat snacks to try:


Black, green and Kalamata olives are all high in monounsaturated fats. Add them to salads or use on whole wheat crackers with low fat cream cheese.


Because avocados are high in healthy, monounsaturated fats, you can feel good about that guacamole!

For a healthy, filling breakfast high in monounsaturated fats, try spreading avocado on wholegrain bread or having a few slices of the fruit alongside a fried egg.

Trail Mix

Trail mix that has a high nut and seed content can be a healthy choice. If your trail mix contains candy, try to choose one with dark chocolate. The nuts and seeds found in many trail mixes are high in monounsaturated fats as well as other nutrients like fiber and protein.


Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews and pecans are great choices for monounsaturated fats. Add them to salads, or toss a few into your morning oatmeal or yogurt.

Fiber Fills You Up for Longer

Fiber is a nutrient that aids in digestion, but it also helps you feel full longer when you are trying to lose weight. Foods that are naturally high in fiber include: whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

A small or medium banana is only 80-110 calories and can both satisfy your sweet tooth and fill you up. Another high fiber snack that’s healthy and low in calories is a piece of wholegrain crisp bread or whole wheat toast spread with one tablespoon of peanut butter or hummus.

High water content foods, such as fruit and soup, are also likely to fill you up. The double impact of having a large volume and low-calorie content, as well as being high in fiber makes fruits and veggies the ideal solution for a snack attack.

Protein Keeps You Moving

Protein is important to maintaining general health, but more than that, you need complete proteins to keep your muscles strong and your brain functioning at high capacity.

Meat, dairy products and other animal products, such as grilled chicken, string cheese and eggs, are complete proteins that will keep you full and alert.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need to create complete protein meals by combining wholegrain with nuts or pulses. For instance, you can combine whole-wheat bread with peanut butter or eat chick pea curry served over brown rice.

Weight Loss for Women: You Can Break These 5 Rules and Still Lose Weight

Many women find it difficult and frustrating to lose weight, and it doesn’t help that there is so much conflicting information on the internet, TV advertisements, books and magazines. Sifting through all the information out there can be so overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be. By sticking to basic weight loss strategies, you will be able to take it one step at a time, one pound at a time, and eventually reach your ideal weight in a relatively short amount of time. However, to make this happen, you need to start with an easy-to-follow, realistic fitness and nutrition plan. If you need help with this, you can always seek the expertise of a nutritionist or a personal trainer.

Again, sticking to a basic weight loss plan is your best bet and the least complicated. The basic weight loss strategy involves clean eating and burning more calories than you consume. How can you replicate this process in the easiest way? You can use free app tools like My Fitness Pal or Lose It. Both will show you how to track your calories, your fitness, and find your “sweet spot” with intake, so you can learn to lose weight the healthy way.

To help you lose weight while still enjoying the foods you love, there are rules you can break and still lose weight.

Rule #1: Don’t eat late at night

This is one rule you can break pretty easily and still come out on top.  Remember, it is a simple formula: calories in and calories out. As long as you stick to your calorie limits, those calories can be consumed any time of the day or night as long as you don’t go over. However, you should try to consume most of your calories earlier in the day when you’re more active.

Rule #2: Be a member of the clean plate club!

Yes, your mother preached to you about the starving children in Africa who would gladly eat what you left on your plate. But, if you can’t finish all the food on your plate, it doesn’t mean that it will go to waste. Simply save what is left for later, or save it for another meal during the week. Forcing yourself to eat when you’re not hungry will only create bad eating habits and unwanted weight gain.

Rule #3: Eat at the same time every day

This might work if we stuck to the standard 3 meals per day, but many experts suggest that to stabilize our blood sugar and eliminate insulin spikes, we should divide our intake into 6 smaller meals per day. You can set a schedule if you like, but it is not vital to your weight loss if you don’t. Most people don’t always stick to the standard and occasionally skip meals or eat later, and that is OK because occasional fasting helps your system use up extra calories and lowers your insulin levels.

Rule #4: Restrict all carbohydrates

The low-carb movement introduced us to limiting or cutting out all carbohydrates to induce a state of ketosis where your body burns fat for fuel. While this may work temporarily, it is very hard to stick to this way of eating for very long. You eventually become bored and end up craving the foods you are missing. An alternative for this would be to consume high-water content, nutrient-dense complex carbs like celery, asparagus, cucumbers, kale, spinach, and zucchini, and low-sugar, fiber-rich fruits like apples, melons, pomegranate, and mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries). You can find recipe substitutions for your favorite meals that lower the carb counts without eliminating it completely.

Rule # 5: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

While breakfast can help to boost your metabolism and jump-start your day, it’s good to occasionally shake up your routine. Skipping breakfast on occasion can facilitate fat burning and allow your body to heal. Just don’t fast too often, as it can cause your metabolism to slow and stall your weight loss progress. If you get in the habit of skipping meals or not consuming enough calories, your body will go into starvation mode and begin storing calories as fat for later.  

There are many diet programs out there for women looking to lose weight. Your main goal, however, should be to follow a healthy eating plan that you can stick with for the long-term. Don’t fall for the short-term, quick fix fad diets, which many people find too restricting and ultimately end up derailing their weight loss efforts. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite treats. Life is too short for that, so go ahead and enjoy that piece of chocolate or glass of wine. You’re much more likely to lose weight and keep it off using this approach. Just keep it in moderation and watch the portions!

If you watch television or read things on the internet, you will no doubt understand that there are many myths associated with weight loss. Big diet industry names have capitalized on that to make money from our misunderstanding of the issue. If you follow the tips outlined above, you will lose weight in the easiest way possible and without spending a ton of money. You will be lighter, healthier, and happier in your new lifestyle.

Weight Loss Plateaus: Main Causes and Top 12 Solutions

What is a weight loss plateau?

You have started a weight loss plan and have been following it for some time and you could not be more pleased with the results. You look better, feel better, and even have more confidence in yourself. All those things have made you that much more determined to reach your weight loss goals.

There is only one problem and it’s a big one; even though you’re eating and physical activity routines have not changed, you have suddenly stopped losing any weight at all. It can be a very frustrating experience to say the least. A weight loss plateau is a time period in which your body stops losing weight despite your diet and exercise efforts.  

Does that mean that your results have been hindered and you should quit your efforts? Of course not!   

Possible causes for weight loss plateaus

It is important to understand why you may have hit a weight loss plateau in the first place. Prior to finding some solutions for your weight loss plateau, here are some vital facts on weight loss plateaus that you need to know:

Weight loss plateaus are extremely common. If you don’t notice a weight loss plateau as you get to your ideal weight, you should feel extremely lucky. Weight loss plateaus are expected as you continue to lose weight. Your body is resistant to being changed. Many people who get to their ideal weight have had as many as 2-3 weight loss plateaus during that period of time. If changing your body were that simple, everyone would have a normal weight.

The more weight you lose, the harder it is to lose weight. It all comes down to mathematics. If you weigh a lot, losing a pound or so of fat is just a small percentage of your body weight. As you approach your ideal weight, a pound lost is a lesser percentage of your total body weight.

As you diet and exercise to lose weight, your body initially gets a nice boost in metabolism in order to start compensating for the loss of calorie intake. Over time, this compensation will slow down because you have lost fat and possibly lost some muscle too, as this can happen when you diet and do not perform some type of weight training exercise. A slower metabolism means less weight loss.

Losing weight becomes more difficult the closer you get to your ideal goal. Not only does your body work harder to keep your fat stores the thinner you become, the pace of weight loss is slower. The fact is that the ability to lose more fat goes down, as you get closer to your body weight. The most common weight loss plateaus occur at around 20-22 percent body fat, decreasing to around 12 percent body fat, as you get closer to your goal.

Mindless Cheating. Is it possible that you are allowing yourself to cheat a little bit on your diet now that you are bubbling over in confidence in your ability to lose weight and not even noticing that you are cheating more than you think?

Top 12 Solutions to Weight Loss Plateaus 

  • Push past the plateau by challenging the body.

Try getting on the treadmill every day for about thirty minutes and do some intense brisk walking. With time, your body gets too used to the same routine and you become less efficient at sticking with your goals. Try varying your physical activity so you can push the envelope to get past your weight loss plateau.

In your treadmill session, for example, try pushing up the incline or speed up for a little while to get your muscles really going. Keep at this higher intensity for a couple of minutes and then go back to what you are comfortable with, this type of High Intensity Interval Training is highly effective in keeping the body guessing, challenged and burning fat.

Make sure you include strength training, such as weight lifting, in your routine. Having more muscle on you will help you burn more calories so you’ll start losing weight again. The truth is that the body always strives to adapt, and once it does, it no longer needs to work so you must demand it to do so to go to the next level.

  • Step away.

If you keep weighing yourself and obsessing over the stuck scale, this will cause you stress and stress plays a key role in weight gain. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, which is a major culprit in storing fat. So stop weighing yourself. Stay on track with your program, relax, and just let it go. If you continue to do what you need to, eventually you will start to see results again.

  • Take a closer look at your weight loss habits.

If you have lost weight and then hit a plateau, you may not understand why because you have not changed your eating or your physical routine at all. Or have you?

Sometimes you need to take a closer look at your habits that helped you lose weight and look for subtle changes in them. It could be something as simple as adding sweetened beverages back into your diet again or allowing yourself to eat larger portions of food than you were eating before. Maybe you have skipped more workouts than you thought lately?

Identifying any and all subtle ways in which you may have slipped in your weight loss plan and correcting them could be the key to helping you begin to drop those unwanted pounds again.

  • Don’t underestimate the calorie content of any food you eat.

This is a common error that can lead to a weight loss plateau. Make sure to identify the correct calorie count of everything you eat, and make sure to be sure the actual portions for those counts. If you are eating too many calories, this may be because of emotional triggers. Try tracking your feelings with the time of day and write down your feelings in order to discover those emotions and problem times that can cause you to eat too much.

Recognize what triggers you to eat and look for healthier foods to satisfy your appetite. At least find foods that help you deal with your emotions that don’t cause you to gain weight. Keep track of your progress and reward yourself with something you really like to do in order to pay yourself back for all the hard work you’ve put in.

  • The scale is not your only progress assessment tool.

Do you lift weights or perform any type of muscle building exercises? Did you know that muscle weighs more than fat? This is the reason that gym people and personal trainers rarely rely on the scale, but instead use a fat caliper to measure their body fat percentage. This is what concerns them much more than weight because a 250-pound man that is all muscle, could be 50 pounds overweight according to the governmental health guidelines, but if all that “excess” weight is muscle, and not fat then in reality is he is very healthy.

Use a tape measure to measure your waist, chest, and other parts of the body. Check how your clothes feel, are they loose? Use a fat caliper instead of just using the scale. All of these options will provide you with a much more realistic picture of the results of your efforts.

  • Watch portions.

Remain consistent with portion control to avoid accidently eating more calories than you need. This is why it is extremely important to consistently measure, and weigh your portions in the same ways that you usually do.

  • Eat lots of protein.

Studies show that eating a low carb, high protein diet can help control your hunger. High protein foods work by keeping the hormone ghrelin in check, which is a hormone secreted by the stomach that cause hunger. Carbs promote hunger, while protein satisfies it and keeps you full longer. Consuming high protein foods will decrease the level of ghrelin significantly, helping to keep hunger pangs under control.

  • Eat more vegetables.

Fill up on vegetables because they are chock-full of nutrients and low in calories. Try starting a meal with a bowl of broth or a vegetable salad rather than going straight to the main meal. Have plenty of vegetables on hand and ready to eat, to avoid the roadblock of washing and prep time. When you fill up on nutrient-dense and low-calorie vegetables, you are less likely to binge on highly processed foods.

  • Get cravings under control.

It’s true that when you diet you may get some pretty powerful hunger urges, but you can satisfy your hunger in a way that will not interfere with your weight loss. A lot of that has to do with eating certain foods.

One of the best ways to stabilize hunger and avoid out of control cravings is to limit your intake of unhealthy carbs; instead, focus on eating carbs low on the glycemic index, which means not eating anything white and avoiding starches and sugar.

Sticking to berries for a sweet tooth is a low carb option and eating more non-starchy vegetables instead of rice or pasta can go a long way to stabilizing your hunger, and keeping out of control cravings at bay.

  • Don’t starve yourself.

The opposite problem to increasing calories is not getting in enough calories to sustain your weight. If you chronically deprive your body of food, it will slow its metabolism down and you’ll have trouble losing weight. Starvation sends the body into survival mode, which means it will store anything and everything you do eat as fat for later use. Each meal you consume should be nutrient rich and include a healthy fat, a healthy carb, and a protein.

  • Get moving.

This sounds obvious, but many forget about physical activity and how little things really matter to get beyond a weight loss plateau. Stay consistent and exercise every day to boost metabolism, and this does not just mean going to the gym or performing structured workouts.

Try walking briskly instead of just strolling around the room. Get outdoors where you have more room to move around. As previously mentioned, many times people hit weight loss plateaus because their metabolism starts to slow again as they lose weight. Well, there is no better way to jumpstart weight loss again than by increasing the time you spend working out, being generally active or increasing the effort you put into your workouts. This is especially important for those who have a sedentary job.

Choose to go walk around a museum as opposed to going to a movie and sitting down. You can also go for a swim instead of chatting on the computer or take your dog for a walk instead of reading a book.

Your body will have no choice but to start using up its stored fat in order to supply itself with the energy it needs. The bottom line is that anything extra that you do physically each day can be a catalyst to help get you over a weight loss plateau.

  • Drink More Water.

Water is essential in weight loss because as the body loses weight it generates water as part of fat metabolism, so you need more water to reach a healthy water balance. Moreover, as fat cells shrink they release toxins, which must be removed by internal processes that involve the digestive system and liver.

Drinking plenty of water promotes this process and dehydration stalls it, and may interfere with hormones causing to increase fat stores. Drinking plenty of water also helps to regulate the appetite and promotes satiety.


Final Thoughts

Don’t give up on your diet or weight loss goals just because you hit a weight loss plateau. This is a very common thing.

You found a way to get the will power once to start losing weight. If you stay focused and determined and take some of the advice given here, you will find a way to get over your weight loss plateau, too. So, stay on track and keep going!





4 Benefits of Training with a Stability Ball

The stability ball is an effective tool for mastering balance, control, core stability, and strength. Stability balls, also known as exercise balls or fit balls, are used in home gyms, weight rooms, and fitness classes. Using a stability ball on a regular basis will provide many benefits and make any exercise more challenging.

Spine and Back Health

According to a study published in the May 2006 edition of “The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,” using an exercise/stability ball may decrease the risk of back pain in sedentary individuals and improve stability of the spine. The study found that when the stability ball is used on a regular basis, spinal stability and core strength improved. Researchers concluded that individuals who are prone to back pain or spend a lot of time sitting could definitely benefit from frequent use of the stability ball.

Muscle Balance

Muscle imbalance is caused when one muscle group is stronger than its opposing muscle group. For example, your quadriceps (front of thigh) and hamstrings (back of thigh) need to work together to perform a certain task, as do your triceps and biceps. Your anterior muscles (front of body) are naturally stronger than your posterior muscles (back of body), because they are used more frequently throughout the day. Also, most people tend to neglect their posterior muscles and over-train their anterior muscles, which can lead to additional imbalances and bad posture. The ball is an ideal choice for correcting these imbalances because it strengthens the posterior muscles and supports the lower back.

Aids in Sports Performance

The soft, unstable surface of the exercise ball stimulates all of your core muscles, and improves proprioception, balance, posture and coordination. Not only will these skills help protect you from injury, but also improve your sports and fitness performance.

Core Stability

Your core plays a critical role in stabilizing and supporting all your movements. The abdominal muscles or “midsection” consists of deep core and back muscles that work to balance your entire body. The deep muscles in the abdominal wall, such as the lumbar multifidus and transverse abdominis, form a belt around the vertebrae to help control breathing and support posture. These muscles work together to help with everyday activities, such as throwing, reaching, lifting, running and bending, so keeping them in good shape is very important. Otherwise, you risk injury and simple movements like walking, pulling, and running go unsupported when the stabilizer muscles are not well conditioned. Three great exercises for stabilizing the core include the Plank, Prone Cobra and Floor Bridge. When you perform these exercises, focus on slow, controlled movements. For best results, perform at least 2 sets of these three exercises at least three days a week, non-consecutively, for 4 to 6 weeks.



Top 5 Cancer-Fighting Superfoods


Photo credit: Renee Rendler-Kaplan CC-BY-1.0

Being diagnosed with any cancer can be a frightening experience, and just hearing the “C” word can be terrifying enough. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated one-third of cancer deaths can be linked to a poor diet and inactivity. Genetic and environmental factors also play a role. However, the good news is that you can fight disease and live longer by making healthier food choices, including a variety of superfoods, and getting more exercise.


Spirulina is a blue-green algae superfood abundant in vitamins, minerals, protein, carotenoids, and antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. It contains nutrients, including beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, manganese, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, iron, copper and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).  In A Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies, Mark Stengler ND, writes “spirulina stimulates natural killer cells and similar anti-immune components of the immune system that can help fight cancer cells. Laboratory studies also show that spirulina polysaccharides can work to repair genetic material that has been damaged from toxins or from radiation.”


Chlorella is another nutrient-dense superfood that offers a powerful punch against cancer. In Prescription for Dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch explains, “Chlorella…contains the highest chlorophyll level per ounce of any plant, as well as protein (nearly 58 percent), carbohydrates, all of the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, amino acids (including all nine essential ones), enzymes and rare trace minerals.” In Treating Cancer with Herbs, Michael Tierra, writes “due to its dense and nutrient-rich nature, chlorella offers your body a two-fold attack against cancer. You can access these benefits by taking only one or two teaspoons of chlorella once or twice daily.”


Several types of mushrooms, such as Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi, help to strengthen the immune system and may assist the body in its fight against cancer. Compounds in the mushrooms called polysaccharides can help build immunity. Lectin, which is a protein, may also fight cancer cells by preventing them from multiplying.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, may provide protection against certain cancers, including colon, bladder and breast cancers. Cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, which stimulate our bodies to break down potential carcinogens. Sulforaphane, found in broccoli and in broccoli sprouts, is a well-known isothiocyanate, which stimulates the body to produce enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. Also, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, many cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound that affects sex-hormone metabolism involved with the progression of prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. Men between 40 and 64 who ate three or more half-cup servings of cruciferous vegetables a week were 41 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.


Fresh, organic berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are abundant in nutrients and antioxidants, which may slow or prevent the development of cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, all berries are abundant in a phytochemical called ellagic acid, which has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the breast, skin, lung, bladder and esophagus. Ellagic acid also acts as an antioxidant, helping the body to neutralize specific carcinogens and slow the reproduction of cancer cells.


3 Hormones That Can Make or Break Your Weight Loss Efforts


Photo Credit: Public Domain

Do you find yourself eating less, exercising more, and not losing a pound or an inch? If so, hormones may be to blame. Hormones are chemical messengers that are responsible for triggering or regulating bodily functions. When hormones are out of balance, negative effects within the body can result, including weight gain. Cortisol, insulin, and serotonin are just a few of the hormones that can and do play a significant role in making or breaking your weight loss efforts.


Insulin can play a vital role in making or breaking your weight loss efforts. No matter how many calories you remove from your diet and no matter how many exercises you incorporate into your daily routine, if insulin is not stable, you may feel the need to eat more. In fact, according to Dr. Mercola, on his web site, explained that insulin is the central part of the weight loss equation and the reason 200 million Americans are overweight is because they have impaired insulin receptor sensitivity. An overabundance of insulin can prevent your fat-burning hormone, lipase, from releasing fat into your bloodstream to be used as fuel. So, instead of using fat for fuel, your body will use carbohydrates and amino acids from your muscles. The key to weight loss success, according to, is to have LOW levels of insulin so your body can produce large amounts of hormone-sensitive lipase and burn fat all day so you can look thin and slim. People with high insulin levels should also avoid overeating, especially refined carbohydrates and processed foods, and get regular exercise.


Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain, which plays a vital role in whether or not your dieting efforts will succeed. Serotonin can also affect your appetite, mood, sexual arousal, perception of pain and body temperature. Consuming high carbohydrate foods will increase serotonin levels in the brain, whereas low serotonin levels will cause your body to crave carbohydrates. Furthermore, researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Research Center (BIDRC) found that decreased serotonin is linked to increased appetite. Therefore, weight loss can occur when you increase your serotonin levels either through diet, supplementation or both. SAM-e and 5-HTP are supplements that may be of assistance in weight loss, and it has also been used for depression. Consult with your doctor before taking these supplements, especially if you are already taking medication for depression.


Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, which is responsible for the flight or fight syndrome. This hormone plays a key role in metabolism, helping to determine the best source of energy – protein, carbohydrate, fat – for your body to use.  Chronic or long-term stress can increase cortisol levels and cause metabolic and hormonal imbalances that lead to weight gain. Too much cortisol not only increases your appetite and craving for unhealthy foods, but also lowers testosterone levels in women and men. Lower testosterone can mean the loss of lean muscle, causing your body to burn calories less efficiently. Remember that muscle burns more calories than body fat. To keep your cortisol levels in check and lose weight, you need to incorporate stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi; and get regular exercise such as cycling, hiking or walking; and get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. In fact, according to Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., author of the book called “The Cortisol Connection,” says that getting just two nights of restful, sound sleep can be more effective at reducing cortisol than a lifetime of stress-management classes. And, lastly, taking certain supplements, such as DHEA, may also be helpful for lowering cortisol levels in men and women, according to a University of Pittsburgh study published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology” in February 2003.

So, as you can see, it is important to watch calories and include exercise; however, it is equally important to be aware of your hormonal balances, as well.


Valentine’s Day Treats That Won’t Bust Your Diet

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Are you looking for the perfect sweet Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or a loved one, but don’t want to add too many extra calories? Sugar-free and low-sugar candies and sweets are a good option for those counting calories.

Chocolate should not make you feel guilty and may even help you get some nutrients you might be lacking. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which improve your blood pressure, lower your bad cholesterol and improves blood flow. The darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains. Chocolates that consist of 70 percent cocoa are richest in flavonoids and usually less than 150 calories per serving. You can indulge in dark chocolate without the guilt. Unfortunately, milk chocolate does not offer the same guilt-free benefits and contains more calories.

Dried fruits are naturally sweet and contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. Nuts covered in dark chocolate are another good Valentine’s Day treat that won’t add a lot of calories to your diet. Some nuts can be high in fat, so check the label for calorie and fat information. Sugar-free jelly beans give you all the flavor your sweet tooth demands without the extra calories. Fresh fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries and pineapple are sweet and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.